Thursday, June 27, 2013

There's No Place Like Noosa

This is an echidna, I e-kid ya not.
I'd been warned, I mean promised, that Oz is the perfect moniker for Australia because it's truly like another world.

We are finding this to be delightfully true. Take our sighting of an echidna. While it wasn't as dramatic as our kangaroo encounter, it was just as thrilling because these little buggers are as elusive as Greta Garbo.

Like the platypus, the echidna is a monotreme--a mammal that lays eggs. Now that's an animal that thinks outside the box.

All things Oz:  On our hike, these trees reminded me
of the ones that threw their apples at Dorothy.

When we told our our lunch waiter about the echidna, he  grabbed our camera to show his coworkers. I might have detected a little jealousy when he declared, "Many people live in Australia their whole lives and never see one!"

When we first saw the adorable rabbit-sized creature while walking in Noosa National Park, it buried its head in the dirt giving it the appearance of a round, spiky plant. Eventually it pulled its head out and waddled off.

Wild, dozing koala

As if that wasn't enough, we also saw a koala high in a gum (eucalyptus) tree! So cute, and yet so far. I yearned to hold Tinkerbell once again.

The exotic bird songs you hear everywhere add to the feeling you're in a fabled land. Our mascot bird--the bird we've seen everywhere--is the striking magpie. Dave caught a quite elegant shot of one today.  (If you keep reading, you'll see it).


We also saw something that looks just like a heron, but we are never sure if our American labels are correct for Australian creatures.

We have learned, however, that these colorful "parrots" are actually rainbow lorikeets. They live as couples, and we saw two pairs today in the park as we were walking home.

Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and mate for life.

Home for these days in Noosa is a room in a five-bedroom house dubbed The Pink Palace--our first Airbnb adventure. Comfy bed, our own bathroom, clean sheets and towels...and inexpensive as all get-out.  It feels kind of like staying in a friend's house, and kind of like being in a boarding house--with multiple decks, large kitchen, dining room, and TV family room for all to share.

The owners--Gabby and Mark--have traveled widely, including a two-month stint in China. They went with another couple (not a tour group) and made no hotel reservations in advance. They entered via Vietnam, and even though they speak only English, they were able to eat good food, always find places to stay, and meet new people.  And I thought we were adventurous! Soon they are going to rent out the whole house and head to Europe for an indeterminate amount of time.

regal mascot

Also staying here is a young guy going to university, and a couple (she's American, he's French) who've been doing a lot of traveling. Now they are working toward Australian residency which involves, she says, proving she has a university degree and "skills," and paying a series of bureaucrats "a bunch of money."

Once they get residency, they can live here long-term without feeling they are being forced to marry in order to live together longer than three months at a time in France or the U.S. (Also, once they are residents, they can avail themselves of Australia's fabulous health-care system that is, ahem, free.)

Have I mentioned that Noosa is, like, totally beautiful?

The more people we meet, the more I'm being reminded that there are as many paths down the yellow brick road as there are travelers.  People make their dreams come true by believing they are possible.  And by being creative--as creative as mother nature when she dreamed up incredible creatures like the echidna.

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